Stocks Slip Ahead of Fed Statement; Greece Developments in Focus

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Stocks are lower at mid-day as investors await word from the Federal Reserve, which is set to make a statement on monetary policy later today that is likely to influence trading.

The U.S. economy is in focus as investors await the afternoon policy decision and statement from the Federal Reserve, followed by Chairman Ben Bernanke's news conference.

The Fed is widely expected to make formal the planned end on June 30 to its program of buying $600 billion of Treasury securities to prop up the economy. It's also expected to leave its interest-rate policy unchanged. The statement is due at 2:30 p.m. ET. Bernanke, then, will likely address a string of weaker economic reports to hit in recent weeks.

U.S. and global markets are choppy as investors take in late-Tuesday news that the Greek government survived a vote of confidence but still has steps to take before euro ministers release funds to ease its debt crisis. Stock and commodity markets advanced solidly ahead of that vote and Asian markets gained in a catch-up session to global gains Tuesday.

In company news:

Shares of Apple ( AAPL ) are higher as Bloomberg reports the computer company has plans to unveil a new iPhone in September that will have a stronger chip for processing data. The chip will also help run a more advanced camera, the report said, citing people familiar with the plans.

Transocean (RIG) is higher after it blamed BP ( BP ) in an incident where one of RIG's oil rigs exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last year, leading to a major oil spill. It said BP failed to properly assess the risks around the troubled well and did not communicate the danger to RIG. BP also used a poor well design which which led to the failure of cement around the well casing, allowing gas to escape and reach the rig, the report said.

Novartis ( NVS ) is down after it said a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended against approving ACZ885 to treat inflammatory disease gouty arthritis because it was concerned about the drug's safety, reports said.

Shares of Yahoo! (YHOO) are down as Alibaba Group and Softbank said they continue to be engaged in constructive negotiations and have made substantive and encouraging progress toward an agreement regarding Alipay. They said their objective is to reach an agreement in a timely manner that serves the interests of all stakeholders. The companies said they will not comment in further detail until it is appropriate to do so.

ADRs of Merck KGaA ( MKGAY ) are down as Reuters reports that the company said concerns raised by US drug regulators over the risks of its cladrib ine pill halt any development and marketing plans for drug, which treats multiple sclerosis. The German drug company will also wihdraw the drug from markets in Australia and Russia, the report said.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) are higher as Bloomberg reports the bank is planning to sell five-year notes for the first time in four months as borrowing costs for lenders climb to the highest level this year. The issue will come in a benchmark size--usually $500 million--the report said, citing a person with knowledge of the mater. Bank bond yields increased to 210 basis points on June 17, which was the highest this year, the report notes.

In earnings:

--FedEx ( FDX ) reports Q4 EPS of $1.75, better than the analyst consensus of $1.72 per share on Thomson Reuters. Revenue was $10.55 bln, ahead of the Street view of $10.41 bln. FedEx projects earnings to be $1.40 to $1.60 per diluted share in the first quarter and $6.35 to $6.85 per diluted share for fiscal 2012. The Street is at $1.42 per share in earnings for Q1 and $6.49 per share for FY 2012.

In energy, the Energy Information Administration said crude oil stockpiles fell 1.7 million barrels for the week ended June 17. That decline was bigger than the 81,000-barrel fall reported by the American Petroleum Institute late yesterday.

Commodities are higher. August gold contracts are up 0.75% to $1,558 an ounce while July crude oil contacts are up 0.47% to $94.59 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 0.95% to $37.14 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1.16%, to $11.06.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 0.52% at $151.54. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 1.63% to $54.89. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 0.45% to $35.67.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , BP , FDX , MKGAY , NVS

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